On October 27, 1977, with the permission of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam (NOIP) in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held a seminar on “Improving laws, policies and state management of intellectual property”
The objective of the seminar is to propose directions, objectives and solutions to improve the policies, legislation and state management of IP (Intellectual Property); and to develop national IP strategies. On this basis, the seminar encouraged and recorded comments from stakeholders and international experts to perfect the IP system in general and develops IP strategies in line with the state general objective, be the driving force for socio-economic development in the coming time.
At the beginning of the seminar, Mr. Nguyen Van Bay, Head of Legislation and Policy Department of the NOIP, stated a report on the current status of IP policies system and the practical implementation thereof. He emphasized that the seminar will focus on the analysis and evaluation as well as the solutions to the protection of rights through administrative measures. In addition, the role of state policies in balancing the interests of IP rights holders and society, especially in the protection of public health, is also the subject of his speech.
At present, the system of legal documents related to IP is quite rich with 1 Law, 9 Decrees, 20 Circulars guiding the implementation and 34 other related legal documents. Vietnam has also joined 8 international treaties on protection standards, 3 treaties on global registration, and 4 treaties on classification. As such, Vietnam has a relatively adequate legal basis for registration of IP rights and step by step protection of IP rights, as well as the expansion of Vietnam’s international cooperation in the field of IP. However, there is a lack of guideline documents on new subjects of IP rights (genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and folklore). The IP Laws remain unclear, conflicting and difficult to implement.
According to Ha Thi Nguyet Thu, a specialist from the NOIP, the number of applications was 104,275 received during the period from 2006 to 2016, of which 2016 were doubled in 2006, an average annual increase of 10-15%. However, the amount of applications filed by Vietnamese enterprises is still low compared to applications from foreigner enterprises and the applications filed in invention field of the Vietnamese only accounted for 9.5% of total. She noted that the current problems in establishing industrial property rights are long processing times, low quality and unpublished data. The main reason is in spite of the increasing the number of applications. the resources and human resources are limited still.
Regarding the enforcement of copyright law and related rights, the representatives of the Copyright Office have presented in details. In general, this enforcement system is operating quite effectively through a combination of inspection, market management, customs, police, border guards and people’s courts at all levels. In addition, there is effective participation of supporting organizations (Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright-VCPMC, Recording Industry Association of Vietnam- RIAV …).
In the field of Plant breeders’ rights, in particular, since Viet Nam has become a full member of the UPOV Convention, plant variety protection can be granted for varieties in, and therefore the number of applications has increased sharply (199 applications in early August 2017). The reason for this increase is attributed to the fact that plant breeders’ holders trust the system of plant variety protection in Vietnam. Unlike patent and utility solutions applications, the number of applications originated from foreign countries accounts for about 10% of total applications. In order to amendments to the IP law, a representative from the Department of Crop Production commented that a number of amendments should be made to the current Law. For example, the regulations stating that farmers are allowed to keep plant breeders would be difficult to protect the rights of authors. In addition, he proposed the protection of processed products from harvested materials should be allowed.
The implementation of the law on IP rights protection through the administrative measure has been discussed in details in the seminar. At present, the administrative measure is considered as an effective tool available for IP law enforcement. According to the statistics in the period 2012-2015, 98.37% of cases were handled by administrative measures, whereas other measures (judicial, border control) accounted for only 1.63%. The application of the administrative measures has many advantages, such as many competent agencies can handle, saving time and costs, quickly. However, they are not effective in the deterrence and prevention of recidivism. The infringed right-holders are not compensated for damages and this is inconsistent with the nature of the intellectual property relationship. Therefore, a solution proposed by an Inspector of the Ministry of Science and Technology inspectorate is to shift to judicial handling (civil and criminal) in order to strengthen the role of judicial authorities in the handling of IP violation and dispute. In addition, the coordination between administrative agencies and the judiciary should be strengthened in order to enhance the effectiveness of the handling of violation.
Regarding the relationship between the protection of IP rights and public health policy, existing issues relating to pharmaceuticals in the process of international integration were presented at the seminar. The question is how to balance the interests of IP rights holders and of community. A number of proposals are to amend the Law concerning drug registration requirements and inventions, for example, the provisions on the protection of test data; the provisions on the association between the invention and the registration of the drug.
Some solutions to improve the IP Law, policy and legislation in the period 2018-2030 were presented by a representative of the NOIP, focusing on the following topics:
- Fulfill the legal system on IP,
- Fulfill key mechanisms to use IP,
- Develop policies to balance the interests of IP rights holders and of community,
- Improve the policies of protecting IPR by civil actions.
Solutions to improve the efficiency of establishing rights:
- Promote Information Technology,
- Fulfill the process of application examination for registration of industrial property; develop a specific quality management strategy,
- Improve the capacity of examiners, skills and legal services to deal with disputes, appeal,
- Study on the socialization of some stages in the process of application examination,
- Increase capacity of technical testing of plant varieties,
- Reform the existing systems in IP management.
- Strengthen capacity and efficiency in IP management,
- Strengthen the physical infrastructure for the protection of rights.
In addition, solutions for developing the professional support systems and raising awareness, human resource are also mentioned.
The seminar took place within a day; nevertheless it raised concerns about the system of legal documents as well as the enforcement of IP rights. In general, the presented opinions assumed that Vietnam already has established a relatively adequate legal framework to establish and enforce IP rights. However, the establishment of rights and enforcement of rights has encountered many shortcomings which need to overcome. The fulfillment of the legal system will facilitate the enforcement of intellectual property rights, which is considered as a target in the coming time, is aimed to have an effective protection of IP rights, to create the trust for IP rights holders, to promote the IP activities in Vietnam in the future.